Harry Potter and the Cracked Reservoir
Chapter 38: Noel Departures
By Musings of Apathy
Chapter 38: Noel Departures
Thank you to my Betas; Cateagle and Sparky40sw.
Ginny entered the Gryffindor common room, thankful to find Harry in the corner at a study table poring over a stack of parchments in concentration. She smiled, proud of him and his hard work, and decided that they both could use a break. She had, after all, just spent two grueling hours in detention with Professor Hagrid for a minor thing. That slimy Slytherin deserved what she got when she said that about her. How could she imply that the only reason someone like Harry would stay with someone like Ginny was if she were shagging him? The nerve! And what about getting a detention? It’s Care of Magical Creatures; bats are creatures and the ones she created that came out of Mutty’s nostrils were certainly magical, so, magical creatures. What’s the problem?
The detention, though, hadn’t really been torture. Hagrid had heard the comments by Mutty or whatever her name was. Mutty just seemed to fit. And so, instead of raking up thestral dung, she had spent two hours feeding various forest creatures by hand to â€˜Get â€˜em use’ta people.’ It hadn’t been bad, and her brothers would probably like to know that the unicorns had come right up to her to eat the sweet grain from her hand. If she had her way, she would have to be careful of her interaction with them in the future. The only frustrating thing was Harry’s noble streak.
With a smile she sat down hip-to-hip with Harry, glancing at his work.
"What’ya working on, Harry?" she said with a playful voice.
He turned and smiled at her. "Well, I remembered your outing flying the other day," Harry said. "And I wished that it was something that we could do together, so…" he gestured to the stack of parchment sitting face down to his right and the beginning sketch in front of him.
Ginny squealed, "Oh that’s great Harry!" she exclaimed loudly and hugged the stuffing out of him. It was obvious to Harry, as he felt his ribs creak, that the female Weasley hug had passed successfully from mother to daughter.
Harry smiled when he was released, though slightly missing the tight contact. Ginny picked the stack of finished parchments up to find it larger than she had thought, at least thirty parchments tall. Harry returned to his drawing as she first turned the stack over. A look of confusion creased Ginny’s brow. She flipped from drawing to drawing getting more confused at each turn.
"Harry," she said to draw his attention.
Harry, in the middle of a movement didn’t interrupt his drawing, merely giving an acknowledging, "Hmm?"
"I thought you said that you wanted to fly with me," she said, disappointed. "These are all of a black housecat."
"Hmm? What?" Harry asked, dragging his attention from his drawing. He looked at the parchments in Ginny’s hand and reran what she had asked in his mind. "Oh," he said finally, "I figured that, as a panther is my natural form, it would be easier to first change size within the same family and then, once I know that I can do multiple forms, I can change to the avian family and become a falcon just like you."
"Oh," she said. "Makes sense."
Harry smiled at her before returning to his drawing with his head down. Ginny rifled through the drawings, fascinated by the process even though she had successfully undergone it with him over the prior months. What she saw in the pictures was a medium sized housecat in midnight black fur that didn’t seem to agree on a direction to point with only a few clumps resting sleek along his body.
"Harry," she said, gaining his attention again, "Even in your magical animagus form your hair won’t stay down," she said with a broad grin.
Harry signed in frustration. "Yeah, I know," he breathed in consternation, "But if I draw it in any other fashion it just doesn’t seem right. I tried to force myself through several drawings, but the whole process just wouldn’t let me keep the drawings with this project. If I try to draw the hair sleek and smooth, it looks like a five-year-old’s primary school drawing. It seems that all of my artistic talents are tied to my animagus forms, nothing else."
Ginny reached up and ruffled Harry’s hair vigorously. "Come on," she said, "It’s not that bad. I like your hair."
Harry reached up and batted her hand away and tried, in vain, to smooth his hair down any.
Grinning at his response, Ginny reassured him, "I’m sure that this talent’s just specific right now because you’re trying to draw your Animagus form. If you were concentrating on something else, you’d be able to draw something else," she said with confidence. "Just look at your drawings for your summer project," she said in a conspiratory tone, "You know, that summer project? As I recall your drawings for that were fantastic, as was the finished result. You remember Hermione saying how beautiful they were."
Harry’s praise-won grin was interrupted by Hermione’s emergence from the girl’s stairwell and coming over.
"What’s up?" she asked. "What was I saying was beautiful?"
"Oh, it’s nothing," Ginny said after receiving a warning glance from Harry not to spill the beans on the identity of his summer project. "I was just trying to convince Harry that he had good drawing skills." Ginny handed Hermione the top parchment that had the side profile of the black housecat.
"Oh, isn’t she beautiful?" Hermione gushed.
"I think so," agreed Ginny. She handed Hermione the front view of the same standing cat with striking emerald eyes and a rough tuft of fur over it’s right eye in an eerie rendition of the lightning bolt scar on Harry’s head. Luckily for Harry, Hermione didn’t see the shape and didn’t recognize the drawing for what it was.
Hermione cooed over the second drawing as well.
Harry’s masculine pride reared its head. "It’s not a she," he said, "It’s a he. And he’s not beautiful, he’s handsome."
"Sure Harry," Ginny said.
"Who’s cat is it?" Hermione asked.
"Well," said Harry, "It might just be Ginny’s some time after the Holidays if I can manage it?"
Ginny smiled at the connotation.
"Oh?" Hermione asked in surprise followed by a repeat in comprehension, "Oh!" She adopted a worried expression. "I hope that I haven’t spoiled your Christmas present to Ginny," she said with an apologetic look for both Harry and Ginny.
"No," Harry said, "This would be a treat for after the Holidays. I don’t think that I can manage it by Christmas."
"Oh, okay, that’s fine then," Hermione said, not missing the smiles on her friends’ faces.
Hermione was brought out of the moment with the chiming of the clock on the other side of the room. "Oh my lord," she exclaimed, "is that the time? I have got to get to my ancient runes class."
Without even a good-bye she sped out the portrait hole in a trice.
"Ginny," Harry hissed, "You’ve got to be more careful. You almost gave away two secrets there."
"Sorry," she said a little to chipper to seem sincere. "Now, enough of this. Let’s go find something better to do."
His annoyance lifted, Harry just looked at her with a raised brow.
"Something better!" Ginny prompted, causing him to jump up and pack his things away a lightning speed.
Ginny could only laugh as he returned moments later, his supplies stowed in his dorm room.
The Thursday before the end of the term marked the last Gryffindor Quidditch practice for the year. Ron looked over his teammates with a proud smile after they finished flying.
He stilled his pacing to address the team.
"I am very proud of everyone on this team. We had a fantastic opening match and didn’t let that go to our head. Even with three months until our next game, everyone here kept the fighting spirit and practiced like it really mattered and we may find, come February, that it truly does matter. We’ve practiced so hard, that there is no way for Slytherin to beat us with skill, there is no way to beat us on teamwork and there is no way for them to beat us on dedication. I am proud to call you my team members and to call myself a member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team." This was met with the approving cheers from the team as they all rose to pound each other on the back and grasp their fellow teammates in friendly hugs.
"And, everyone, just remember, if you’re able to practice your maneuvers over the holidays, please do, and if not, please just review your playbooks to refresh your memory," he told them as the last act of Quidditch Captain before the Christmas Holiday. "Happy Christmas and see you all next year."
The crowd of Quidditch players was apparently in a party mood; loud and rambunctious as they make their way, slowly, to the exit of the Gryffindor changing room.
With a sudden gong sound, everyone stopped and turned back to the cabinet lined room. There they saw Harry standing on one of the changing benches gathering everyone’s attention.
"I think one more note before we all go back to the tower is in order," Harry said. "I want to congratulate Mister Ronald Weasley on a fine Quidditch season at the end of the first term. He is doing a bang up job as a rooky captain and we owe him a round of applause."
They turned as one to Ron and brought their hands together in applause, which devolved into the cheers and whistles of the six starting and four reserve members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Ron broke into a giant smile from the praise, punctuated with the traditional Weasley blush to the roots of his hair.
"Okay, everyone, lets wrap it up a little bit early this evening," Harry said to the full session of the Defense Association. "Everyone come over here by the door."
There was a mini rush for the gathering place as the hundreds of student members of the DA raced for the best location. After they settled down Harry addressed the students.
"I’d like to thank everyone for their efforts to become better at defending themselves in this dark time," he said to the gathered audience. "The skills that you’re learning will, hopefully, help you to defend your family and friends. They will help save, not only yourselves, but also those around you. To help in this Ron, Hermione, Ginny and myself have presents for you and your families."
Harry motioned to Ginny and Ron who whipped a white sheet off a long table and Hermione who removed Harry’s invisible cloak from a smaller round table. Revealed to the students were hundreds, if not thousands of velvet boxes in a rainbow of deep colors.
"These," he said, "Are DA necklaces. They are made to help you get to safety if you are being threatened."
"How can they help us in a fight?" asked a young Hufflepuff.
"How many people know what a portkey is?" Harry asked.
Three-quarters of the room raised their hands.
"Good, most of you," Harry said. "How many people know what a protean charm is?"
Only a small portion of the students raised their hands, mostly from Ravenclaw.
Harry turned to Ron and joked in a private voice that carried to every student nonetheless, "Does Flitwick give the Ravenclaws extra classes or do they all like to read as much as Hermione?"
Ron shrugged, Hermione glared while Ginny, along with a good portion of the students laughed, as they were all familiar with Hermione’s reputation.
"Anyway," Harry moved on, "Wear your necklace and if you are in trouble, clutch it. If you’re on one of the school crests, it’ll move you to the hospital wing." This was a new revelation to Hermione, who thought that she knew everything that the necklaces did. She gave a sharp look at Harry, but his back was turned. "If you are already there, it will move you to the Headmaster’s office. If you are not near a school crest say â€˜help’ and others will be alerted through a Protean Charm that has been embedded in each necklace. If you feel your necklace grow warm and vibrate, one of your classmates is in trouble. The necklace will help direct you to their location. If you are near a responsible witch or wizard, alert them to the location of the needed assistance. If you are capable of rendering assistance and are close enough, help them. If you are away from Hogwarts, are in trouble and can’t wait for help, yank the pendant from the chain and the chain becomes a portkey that will send you and whomever is touching it immediately to the entrance hall. Keep a hold of the pendant; it can still move you from the main crest to the hospital wing."
"That’s brilliant," exclaimed a fascinated Ravenclaw.
"On behalf of my brilliant team," Harry said, "Thank you." Harry turned to his â€˜team’ and was startled at the intense expression on Hermione’s face. Harry reviewed what he had said to cause it and came to the problem. Ah, damn. He had told her, in a round about way, about his knowledge of the transportation crests. Oh, well. Couldn’t be helped. Harry ignored the piercing glare and turned back to his audience. "The necklaces with the crests on them, either for a specific house or the Hogwarts crest, are capable of the movement on the crests. These are for students of Hogwarts, or future students. All of the others are not capable of this and may be given to non-Hogwarts family members. Each has an instruction parchment so that you may familiarize yourselves with the functions. Please, though," Harry pleaded, "Don’t just experiment with these or you will have me and others running all over the country and not helping where we are needed if something happens," Harry paused to let that concept sink in. "Any questions?"
Harry paused for a second waiting for questions, before remembering another thing he had to tell the students. "Also cast on these necklaces are security and secrecy charms to prevent the recipients from telling others what they are really for," at the questioning looks on people’s faces Harry hastily continued. "This won’t prevent them from saving others. It just means that anyone they save with the portkey feature might be in for a surprise," Harry smiled as if it were a funny thought. He had certainly been surprised by too many portkeys, but he could still appreciate the thought as long as it saved someone. "Any questions?"
A timid hand raised in the back, barely noticeable through the sea of robes. Ginny came forward and poked Harry in the shoulder and pointed out the lone hand.
"Yes," Harry said pointing, "In the back there. Make way so that I can see them," he said to the crowd, making a parting motion with his arms. The sea of black parted to show a diminutive student with Slytherin robes. "Yes, um," he paused while Ginny whispered in his ear. "Seth," he said after her whispered prompt. "What is your question?"
The boy, either a first year or a very small second year, stepped forward and asked, "Is-s this only for V-v-volde-m-m-mort’s D-death Eaters or is it for other trouble?"
"Anything that is threatening you, Seth," Harry said. "If it is threatening you and you need to get away from it or get help, use it. We’ll support each other."
"Oh, okay," Seth said. "um, thank you."
Hermione stepped forward, her earlier question not forgotten, but tabled for now. "Harry," she reminded him, "the second table."
"Oh?" Harry said, "Oh, yeah! How many of you have muggle relatives?"
Several dozen hands went up, presumably those of muggle born and half-and-half students.
"For any muggle who will receive the necklaces," Harry said, "please choose from the last table."
"Why?" asked a curious Gryffindor.
Hermione stepped forward and gave a questioning look at Harry. He motioned for her to go ahead, by all means.
"These necklaces have portkeys and protean charms in them. Who knows why muggles would need a special necklace?" she asked in her best teacher voice.
The room was quiet while it contemplated this question. Suddenly, many Ravenclaw and a few from each other house, shot their hands in the air, several of the Ravenclaws looking quite eager to answer as their hands waved in the air.
"Luna?" Hermione called on the strange but eager girl beside Neville to the side of the students. Having never had a class with the fifth-year, Hermione found it very curious to have the odd girl so eager to take part.
"They have no magic, or not enough to operate magical devices," Luna said. Hermione was happy for her to drop her dreamy persona and participate. "The portkey and protean charms use a little bit of magic when they are activated from the person using them. The muggles don’t have the magic in them. That’s also why they don’t have trouble with nargle infestations. The nargles are drawn to magic."
Hermione just dropped her head into her hands at the elaboration from Luna. Harry seeing Hermione’s reaction quickly congratulated Luna on a correct answer.
"Very good, Luna," he said. "And that is why the necklaces on the last table have power crystals that are charged with enough magic for up to four adults to portkey."
"What about the muggle repelling charms on Hogwarts?" Seamus asked.
"Those charms are only on the perimeter wards of the castle, and so, once they are in the castle, they won’t be affected," Hermione said, rejoining the discussion.
"Any other questions?" Harry asked.
Seeing no hands, Harry moved on.
"Okay, if everyone will line up single file along the wall," Harry prompted, "you’ll all be able to collect your necklaces and proceed to dinner. Remember, there are plenty for your entire family, anyone close enough to you that they could be threatened and knows about magic."
Ron joined Hermione, Ginny and Harry near the front door as the students collected the necklaces, some taking just two or three, some taking more. They were joined by a contrite looking Justin Finch-Fletchley.
"What’s up, Justin?" asked Harry, still in charge of the meeting.
"Well, you see," Justin said, "I have a very large family, aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters and they all live in the same group with me and they all know about my magic, but I am the only wizard in the group. If we were attacked, they would all be in danger, but it would just be too much."
"Nonsense," Harry exclaimed. At his side, Ginny gave him a loving hug. "How many are there?" Harry asked with confidence.
"Um, well, you see," Justin said, "There are thirty-one of us, and as you can see that is just too many. Those necklaces look like gold and really expensive. I just can’t ask that of you."
"No need," Harry said, "Easy enough. There are plenty. Take enough for your whole family."
"But why?" Justin asked. "I treated you so badly in second year. Why would you spend so much helping me?"
"You apologized," Harry said simply. "I won’t hold a grudge and condemn you or your family over something that happened four years ago."
"Thank you very much, Harry," Justin said, shaking his hand. "It’s better than I deserve."
Before Harry could respond, Justin had left and joined the queue.
"Harry," Ginny said, "I’m proud of you."
For the next half hour the two couples accepted thanks from the students before packing the empty room up and joining the leaving feast.
Harry was able to fend Hermione off for the rest of the evening and throughout the morning until they made it onto the train and found an empty compartment for the friends. When Harry, Ginny and Ron were with her in the compartment, Hermione waved her wand and cast a complex locking charm that Harry was not familiar with, followed by one of the stronger privacy spells that Harry had ever seen. He responded with merely a raised eyebrow and an inquisitive look.
"Harry," she said, demanding his entire attention, which he gave with amusement. "Those necklaces you made…"
"We made," Harry interrupted her. The look on Ron’s face held one of caution for Harry, warning him not to interrupt Hermione when she was like this.
"…you made," she insisted, "are able to interact with the school crests that happen to have been created during the summer when you seem to have had free reign throughout the school, mostly unsupervised."
"Did you have a question, Hermione?" Harry asked with a smirk.
"On top of that," she said building steam, "the transportation to the Halloween Ball was right on top of the school crests both in the entrance hall and in the Chamber of Secrets."
Harry smiled genuinely, "Yes?"
"And furthermore," Hermione continued, "on several occasions I have witnessed either just you or both you and Ginny," she said turning her piercing gaze onto the youngest Weasley sibling, "disappear while standing on one of the crests."
"Quite possible," said Ginny in a very prescribed manner.
"Well?" Hermione asked, clearly at her wit’s end. She turned her attention back to Harry, finding more luck in the amused expression he had rather than the tight expression of his girlfriend.
"Well what, Hermione?" Harry said with a huge grin, "You haven’t asked any questions yet."
Harry could now see the color flooding her cheeks.
"Well, what did you…how did you…why did you?" she sputtered.
"Ah, well, those are the three I won’t answer," Harry said. "For the when, you already know that one, over the summer. For the who, that would be me. For the where, I built them in the Chamber and then transported them up piece by piece and assembled them and installed them at night when the castle was completely empty. But the questions you asked…What did I do? I found books that told me parts and when I put them together, I knew how to make the crests. What are they?" Harry asked the previously unasked question. He had the rapt attention of both Hermione and Ron. Ginny had her attention focused on Hermione, enjoying the amazement from the smartest witch in Hogwarts. Harry continued, "They are decoration and a linked runic transportation system."
"A linked runi-whoozerwhazit?" Ron asked in utter confusion.
"Honestly Ron," Hermione said, coming back into familiar territory. "A linked runic transport system would mean that all of the crests are linked and they use runes to affect magical transport from one crest to another," Hermione said confidently. "But why, Harry? It all seems to be a lot over one half a summer and you strike me for someone not too interested in invention for invention sake."
Harry considered her point, but couldn’t find any contention with it. "Really," Harry said after contemplation, "it was just luck. I needed a better way into the Chamber and I happened to read the right books in the right order for the solution to be simple. The only hard part was sneaking into the Headmaster’s office to install his control crest. From there he can change how the crests work and even shut the whole thing down. Without the right books, the Ball would have been in the Great Hall and I would have been flying down the stinking, dirty pipe in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom each day when I practice."
"Yeah," Ginny glared, "And you would probably be dead from heat exhaustion from when you passed out on the crest in the Chamber while you practiced that fireball."
"Oh, well," Harry said, "That’s neither here nor there. That safety feature paid off."
"Safety feature?" asked Ron.
"The crests will transport you to the hospital wing if you lie down on one," Harry clarified.
"Oh, that’s helpful," Ron said.
"Books, Harry?" Hermione asked. "Which books?"
Harry smiled at her. "Now Hermione," he said, "three-quarters of the Ancient Runes class heard about the crests last night and you can bet, when they get back from holiday, your professor will hear all about it, as the crests will have been found to contain thousands of runes. It will probably turn into a hands-on project for the class. It would be cheating if I just gave you the answer."
"But…" Hermione said.
"Come on, Hermione," Harry said. "This is for you to discover, but if you want me to ruin it for you, whatever."
"Fine!" Hermione said, "Don’t tell me. I’ll find out on my own."
Harry and Ginny snuggled together for the long haul.
"Harry," Ron said, interrupting snuggle time. "Who won the Weasley Prank competition?"
"Aren’t you two supposed to be doing some sort of prefect thing?" asked Ginny.
"What!?" screamed Hermione. "Oh blast! We forgot all about it with the distraction and all," she said. "Come on, Ron. We have to go do our rounds." She cancelled the privacy and locking charms and dragged an unenthusiastic Ron out of the compartment after her.
"You’re a genius, Gin," Harry rumbled into Ginny’s hair. "I thought they would never leave us in peace."